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Monday, April 25, 2011

exacerbates nuclear woes

India conducted its first ‘peaceful’ nuclear test explosion, dubbing the operation ‘Smiling Buddha.’ But Buddha himself would at best have smiled sardonically at seeing his name tied to such an experiment.

After the test, India vowed never to weaponise its nuclear assets, a pledge that seems to have gone unheeded.
A decade later, the country again set out to test its nuclear capabilities in the Operation Shakti tests - five nuclear tests conducted over three days. Pakistan soon followed suit. It has long been clear that India intended to go back on its non-nuclear weapon pledge. Indeed, an early indication was the commencement of the construction of a nuclear submarine after the 1974 nuclear test. Nuclear drills, meanwhile, were reportedly being taught to every Indian naval officer as early as the 1950s by officials from the Bharat Atomic Energy Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, where India converts fissile material into nuclear weapon cores.

In 1976, Dr Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission at the time, created the Diesel Propulsion Research Team (DPRT), an apparent subterfuge for designing a nuclear propulsion plant for India’s first nuclear submarine. A team of four naval officers led by Indian Navy Capt. PN Agarwala and Capt. Bharat Bhusan were inducted into the DPRT.

Many Indian Naval officers at the time were also trained in nuclear engineering at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and subsequently transferred to the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s classified nuclear submarine project, which was called the Advance Technology Vehicle (ATV).

More recently, during a nuclear discussion session at the India International Centre New Delhi, former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral shared an anecdote with the audience highlighting the Indian Navy’s desire to induct nuclear submarines with a long-range nuclear missile launch capability. This was the same Gujral who, while ambassador in Moscow in 1979 – and on the instructions of Indian Defence Minister C Subramaniam, Indian Defence Secretary K Subrahmanyam and BARC Director Raja Ramanna – reportedly met Adm Sergei Gorshkov and sought assistance with India’s quest for nuclear submarines and long-range, submarine-launched nuclear missiles.(source